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Micro vs. Macro Urinalysis

By Carrie Glossmanz ; Updated July 27, 2017

Urinalysis helps identify many diseases that otherwise have no outward symptoms. It is frequently required as part of health screenings for this reason. Physical examination (macroscopic urinalysis) and microscopic urinalysis identify different types of disease and are used in multiple health-care settings.

General Definition

Urinalysis is a medical examination of the urine in a health-care setting that can include a doctor's office, laboratory or hospital. Collection is taken from the patient, usually with a specimen cup. Amounts as small as ten to fifteen ml can be used for analysis.

Macroscopic Urinalysis

Macroscopic urinalysis entails the visual observation of the urine. Color, quantity and degree of cloudiness are factors in macroscopic analysis. Macroscopic analysis is helpful in identifying the presence of infections, dehydration, liver disease, blood in the urine and irregularities in red blood cells.

Microscopic Urinalysis

To prepare for microscopic urinalysis, urine is spun in a machine until it separates into a bottom sediment and a top liquid portion. The liquid is discarded and the sediment is mixed with an additional drop of the patient's urine and the results are then analyzed under a light microscope. This method detects bacteria, cellular abnormalities and the presence of urine crystals.

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